Steve Kim: The Guy who made The PizzaSwitch

The PizzaSwitch

Some Americans from different ethnicities made their respective mark on America and fulfilled the goal of achieving the American dream. Many of these Americans are Asians –Americans who have Asian parentage or immigrants. Taking advantage of America’s leaning toward entrepreneurship, these minority entrepreneurs started small and grew their own business using the opportunity given to them and the passion they posses.

One important entrepreneur that made his mark as a minority entrepreneur is Steve Kim.

Steve Kim is a very successful entrepreneur. He began on two startup businesses that eventually became big players in the industry where he belonged – tech. From a small-time minority entrepreneur to an industry player, Kim certainly proved that starting small can prove to be successful in the future.

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Kim’s Beginnings

Kim started as immigrant from South Korea. He was born in 1952 at his nation’s capital, Seoul. He came to America in 1976 after serving the obligatory 2-year military service and finishing his studies in electrical engineering.

Coming to America, he worked as a laborer – stocking shelves in a warehouse for an auto parts company. He decided to come back to school and finished a master’s degree in the same field (electrical engineering) in Cal State Northridge. After this, he landed two more jobs – Burroughs, then at Litton Data Systems. Litton Data System was a small fiber-optics modem company and the company inspired him to put up his business, selling his own networking products.

Building Companies

Fibermux Corporation was his first business and it was a reminiscent of the Litton Data Systems Company. He began his company in his own garage in 1984 and it grew exceptionally after the next seven years. By that time, Kim sold the company for $54 million dollars. The company was purchased by ADC Corporation. Fiburmux Corp, when it was bought, has 450 million in revenues and was employing more than 300 employees.

His second company is the Xylan Corporation. Xylan was another high-tech company, founded in August 1993 at Calabasas, California. During its creation, there was a high demand for high speed routing in networks of personal computers and local workstations. This set-up was called local area network or LAN.

Kim’s Xylan Corporation invented the PizzaSwitch. PizzaSwitch, as a name implies, is a switch that looks and shaped like a pizza box. During that time, PizzaSwitch was a new, powerful and inexpensive device that allows major data transfers with minimal glitches or trouble in the LAN network.

PizzaSwitch was revolutionary and it became a hot item, especially for tech companies and other users of the LAN network. Within three years, the product was still selling like pancakes and even recording $30 million dollars in sales. In 1999, Xylan went public. It has more than 1,000 employees, 4,000 customers and $348 million in revenue.

Xylan is a small business, albeit it has record-high sales. When it went public, the opening price for the company’s share was 26 dollars, with 2 million shares on the market. Since Xylan went public, the price of its shares stagnated compared to other tech companies that were also public. In March 1999, the French tech company Alcatel bought Xylan for 2 billion dollars. Alcatel, in that time, also have partial ownership of Xylan. After the buy, Kim stayed on as the head of US Consolidating Division of Alcatel. Xylan became the center of Internetworking division of Alcatel.

New Doors

After Alcatel bought his company, he also became part of Alcatel Ventures as a managing partner. Alcatel Ventures is a venture capital fund in Los Angeles. As a managing partner, Kim added branch offices in Seoul, Boston, San Diego and Silicon Valley. Kim already relinquished the title of a hands-on CEO. Now, he is helping tech companies on their start-ups. These companies are often into computer networking, wireless communications, internet and telecom infrastructure and optical components.

Kim’s Traits

Kim had been successful and he is still active in tech industry. Kim, as an entrepreneur, displayed many positive traits. One trait is his industriousness. In every industry, working hard is a requirement. Starting up a business is no mean feat and not everybody can run a business, let alone two companies almost in the same time. Kim’s handiwork paid off when his company grew and he had people working for him. In addition, he gained profit and recognition for what his companies produced.

Another trait that Kim had is creativity. In his second company, he introduced a novel but essential product in his field. That product made his company grow even better compared to his first. At that time, PizzaSwitch was useful, inexpensive and essential, especially those who share information in their own LAN networks. Kim even acknowledged that his creativity was his strength while running Xylan.

He also showed a great deal of adopting things and situations quickly. He didn’t wait for anything and he was always busy. There was a small transition time when he sold his first company and began his second; when he sold Xylan and stayed on Alcatel. This proves that he doesn’t wait for things to happen; he’s the one who makes things happen.

At the moment, Kim is still an entrepreneur at heart. Being an entrepreneur himself, he uses his position at Alcatel Ventures to encourage the future entrepreneurs in the tech industry. In his position, many will benefit from his wisdom and knowledge.

Kim also holds other positions in other companies. He is the Chairman of the Nara Bancorp, Inc. (a bank holding company), the Chairman of TransDimension, Inc (a manufacturer of semiconductors and semiconductor equipment), and a Board Member of Mockingbird Networks Inc. (a manufacturer of telecommunication equipment).

As an immigrant to the United States and becoming a full American citizen, Kim contributed to his industry and the world using his company and product. From a small start-up to a successful industry player, Kim is a good example on how to strike as a minority entrepreneur. Minority entrepreneurs can be successful; no matter where one comes from or ethnicity one belongs to.

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